cover image Be Quiet, Mike!

Be Quiet, Mike!

Leslie Patricelli. Candlewick, $14.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4477-2

Mike, a little monkey who started beating time in utero ("kick thump pow" comes through loud and clear on the obstetrician's stethoscope), turns everything from a garbage can to his sister's dolls into percussive instruments. So he's constantly being admonished with the titular refrain (which, ironically%E2%80%94or cleverly%E2%80%94begs to be shouted). Mike tries hard to play by the rules, but "the beat of his heart/ was stronger than his will." The gentle lesson Patricelli (the Patterson Puppies books) serves up is that exercising one's talent is great in the right context: a natural-born drummer should use a drum kit%E2%80%94and if that's out of reach (as is the one Mike spies in a store window), make necessity the mother of invention. Patricelli isn't the most felicitous rhymer%E2%80%94the literal writing and well-behaved meter don't do justice to her hero's gifts ("Mike was good at school%E2%80%94/ he wasn't one for yapping,/ but with pencils everywhere,/ he couldn't stop tapping"). But her bright acrylic pictures are the definition of upbeat and bouncy, and she gives the irrepressible, well-meaning Mike unexpected depth and poignancy. Ages 3%E2%80%936. (Aug.)